Federal Research:

Aging Federal Laboratories Need Repairs and Upgrades

RCED-93-203: Published: Sep 20, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1993.


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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the conditions of federal laboratory facilities, focusing on the: (1) effect of inadequate laboratory facilities on agencies' scientific productivity and research capabilities; and (2) funding needed to repair or upgrade these facilities.

GAO found that: (1) 54 percent of federal laboratory space is over 30 years old and only 24 percent of federal laboratory space is less than 20 years old; (2) the laboratories have structural, electrical, and ventilation problems and are not designed to meet advanced research and development (R&D) needs and health and safety requirements; (3) federal agency scientific productivity and research capabilities have been substantially reduced because of the laboratories' poor conditions and outdated design; (4) funding for laboratory facility construction and maintenance is moderately adequate; (5) several agencies have a backlog of more that $3.8 billion in needed repairs; (6) Congress has funded some major projects to modernize existing laboratory facilities and construct new facilities; (7) federal agencies have improved laboratory facility oversight to address their funding problems; and (8) four agencies have established task forces to reassess their R&D mission or improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their facilities.

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